The Blues: Shades from Mosques, Brooklyn and Muffins

The process of experimentation with the Fotodiox 4×5 camera to Canon EOS adapter continues with increasing success. Last night V. baked blueberry muffins to nurse me through the week, as I have yet another head cold – the dangers of teaching. The metal adapter is a vast improvement over my cardboard franken-adapter, and the safety of it being held securely to the plate means that I can quickly alter the movements of the Linhof camera to suit the shot. The muffins were captured at f.5.6 on the 210 Schneider Kreuznach lens with a 2 second timer count to ensure the tripod was steady. At f.5.6 the bokeh is a little rough at the back of the shot, and as noted before this combination works best at f.11 to f.16. Still, the image is exceptional to my eyes in the way that it conveys the idea of blueberry muffins emotively versus being a simple digital capture of blueberry muffins. The use of the 4×5 view camera body will continue to be a focus over the next month as more product photography comes into the studio.

Film is a wondrous thing. Morocco has long since passed from the margins of my immediate memory, but by sorting through the remaining pile of 120 format negatives I can suddenly remember the visit made to Casablanca in the holy month of Ramadan. Despite the magical mystique created by Hollywood around Casablanca, it was not a favourite stop on our two week tour through Morocco. After a dusty cab ride to our hotel, we were happy to simply rest for the night after our flight from Madrid, Spain. With a long walk along the ocean boardwalk before bed, the only stop on our tour of Casablanca was to see the Hassan II mosque as we excited the next morning. Fair enough; those who had ventured into the town medina insisted that we had missed nothing but hassles.

I photographed the Mosque using the Hasselblad SWC camera and its 38mm Biogon lens with Kodak Portra 160 film. I never gave this negative a second look until tonight, and the darkness of the sky spoke to me in a concrete way. The look was created by using a BW Polarizer filter for its maximum effect to darken the skies. Using a camera without a prism, like the SWC made the use hit or miss, but I absolutely love how this photograph came together. Until looking at the negative, I had not given the mosque much thought as we were beginning our long journey through a land filled with Islamic influenced architecture. In hindsight the Hassan II Mosque was truly a monument deserving of contemplation.

On the other side of the Atlantic, I found myself staring at the base of another great monument to ideas: the Brooklyn Bridge. Unlike the Mosque, the bridge was a feat for science and not for God. The bridge has been photographed to death, and I certainly was not about to create a unique view during my thirty minute contemplation beneath her bulk heads. However, the Hasselblad SWC was also used in this photograph, and the 38mm lens does help to present the bridge as the mathematical masterpiece it is. For this image, I decided to use ColorEfex Pro 4 to extract the details of the bridge and convert to black and white. While compelling, I also wanted to use a layer mask to paint back in the blue sky in the fashion that a watercolour artist might do from the previous century for a postcard or colour plate. The grey Gotham sits beneath a godly sky that reminds of a greater powers beyond the Babel we create.

The week ahead will be spent wildly completing the layout for the school’s yearbook. With a few thousand images to sift through, convert and then place within 72 pages, this is no small task, but it has been one of those chores that has consistently improved my photography both in the way I capture images and how I work with the files afterwards in Photoshop and InDesign. The best work is found in learning to appreciate tasks that have grown old by remembering when you would have been joyous to have been entrusted with such work.

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